By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
Twelve years ago, my son handed me a little blue bundle, and it changed me forever.
From that moment on, I became a grandma. My tears sharpened my vision as I looked at Jude, cradled in my arms. A new journey of trusting God began for me. Since that day in February, God blessed us with four other grandchildren. Four that we get to love in person, and one granddaughter who is waiting for us in heaven.
One of the biggest things I learned is that grandparenting is a team effort. Here is how to lead grandchildren with parents and not against them.
I love my grandchildren to pieces, but I did not give birth to them. Once I accepted that fact, God showed me what we need to do as grandparents to ensure our grandchildren will grow up well.
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God requires children to obey their parents. Read Ephesians 6:1. All throughout Scripture we see that obedience is important to God. If children don’t learn to obey their parents, how will they be able to obey their God?
When we respect our grown children, we model something crucial for our grandchildren. And when their parents give them instructions, and we back their parents up, we are reaffirming what their parents say. We cannot expect children to learn respect when we don’t demonstrate it ourselves.
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If your son or daughter’s rules for their children include how long your grandchildren should enjoy screen time, for example, we need to honor their wishes. Sure, we as grandparents may want to loosen reins, but at whose expense? But if we uphold the wishes of our grandchildren’s parents, it will benefit twofold:
- It will strengthen their decision as parents.
- It reinforces the authority of their parents. To disagree with their decisions weakens that authority.
Read Colossians 3:17. If we understood that what we do to one another, we are doing unto God, it would change some of our actions. Being a hero to our grandkids could be fun, but not at the expense of their own parents. Being involved in our grandchildren’s lives is a privilege, not an entitlement. I thank God every day for this gift.
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Be Prayer Warriors
As grandparents, we are in a key position. We can bring them before God’s throne. Some of us have a ringside seat as to the needs of our grandchildren, and even when we’re not aware, God is. Read Philippians 4:6-7. If we begin to get anxious, we can use that as a reminder that we are carrying what doesn’t belong to us. And we can take those anxious thoughts to God. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17. God encourages us to pray. He knew as parents or grandparents, we would need his help.
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God wants us to honor others. Read Romans 12:10. If we honor our grandchildren’s parents, little eyes are watching us. People who are honored feel valued. Honoring someone means that we value what they have to say more than our own thoughts.
Supporting their decisions is a way to honor them. Keeping our mouths closed is another way, especially when we’re ready to give unsolicited advice. This was difficult for me. After all, wouldn’t they want my advice since I raised two children well? In James 1:19, God tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I remember one time when I was about to correct my husband, but didn’t. Imagine my surprise when he caught the error himself.
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What about when you think your kids are making a mistake with your grandchildren? What should you do then? Read James 1:5. God is always available with wisdom for those who ask. God will give us words to say if his Holy Spirit is leading us. But anything said needs to be drenched in grace. God works in situations very well without our help.
Read Proverbs 3:5-6. When we acknowledge him in every way, God will direct. There are times in my life, I wish I had done this, instead of trying to do things myself. I know the outcome would have been better.
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Sometimes we think we can solve problems easily. With all our experience we’re certain we can find the answers. But what if our stepping in is NOT what God had in mind? In that case, it doesn’t matter how brilliant our idea is. God is at work in those who know him. Read Philippians 1:6. If our grandchildren’s parents are Christ followers, God is working in them. And if they don’t know him, God is still working, even if we can’t see it. Read Isaiah 55:8-9. God is infinite and we are finite. While we may presume to know what God is doing, we may be wrong. We need to be certain that we commit our children and our grandchildren to God.
And when we’re tempted to step in, we need to give God our concerns and then wait on him. God is all wise and he doesn’t make mistakes. Impatience means we think God should be moving faster than he is. Read Galatians 5:25. Being in step with God’s spirit is not pushing him, nor is it running ahead and trying to pull him in our direction.
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We all love our grandchildren. From the first time they were placed in our arms, our hearts made room. Loving them is certain. But another way we can show them love is by loving their parents. It’s a tangible way for them to feel cared for. Read John 13:34. This is not a suggestion of God, that we love one another, it is imperative. And our example is how God has shown us love. We didn’t deserve it, and there were no strings attached. So even if you have a disagreement with your grown child, you can still love them.
When our son got married, it changed our lives. We were happy for him and excited about the person he chose to spend his life with. And we saw evidence of that love each time they handed us another little bundle to cradle. Loving our grandchildren’s parents is a wonderful way to show how much we love our grandchildren.
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One of the biggest joys is being a grandma. I love the antics that my grandkids come up with. I love seeing the world through their wonder-filled eyes. Their drawings have touched my heart in deep places. When my back used to hurt, I would lay down on the floor for a few moments. One day when I went up to the playroom, I noticed every stuffed animal was on the floor. Jude and Charlie were quick to explain. “They have back aches.”
And when I was thinking about the loss of my brother, my grandson reminded me of a gift he and his mother had given me. Index cards with little jokes handwritten on each one.
“Maybe you need a laugh, Grandma,” he said, pointing to my special cards which were called, Laughs for your heart.
I laughed in response, and he added, “Or maybe you don’t.”
Some grandparents feel it’s their right to spoil their grandchildren. But may I just say, this is not my goal. Yes, I want to give them special things, and to watch them experience wonderful times. We all want that. But I try to do this within the perimeters of their parents’ wishes. Otherwise, what I would spoil is the relationship I have with them. And if I feel anything start to come between us, I ask God to help me, and I try to talk to them about it. Because without them, I wouldn’t have these little people who call me “Grandma.”
Dear Lord, I pray for anyone reading this article. Father, we thank you for our children, and for our grandchildren. We ask you to give us wisdom in our families. Help us to see you are available any time we need you. Help us remember that you love our families more than we ever could. Show us how to love them so that others will see that love and come to know you. God, help our grandchildren grow up wanting to walk with you. And then we’ll know we have done our jobs well. We pray this in your Son’s most precious and Holy name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. She is a poet, speaker and published author of 14 books including three children’s books:Emma’s Wish, The Crooked House and Lulu’s Lunch. Anne is a poet, speaker and author, but one of her favorite titles is Grandma. To connect with Anne, visit her at www.annepeterson.com, her Facebook Page, or sign up here for updates of her writing and choose one of her free eBooks.
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